Friday 20 September 2019

Latest from Brent land - lots of juveniles and forthcoming population census

With this fine weather the Brent mustn't know what is going on. The youngsters, seeing Ireland for the first time, better not get used to prolonged sunny and warm autumn high pressure periods like this. It isn't often over 20 degrees in late September here that's for sure!

We've had a few reports from Iceland and it's been apparent there too that its been a bumper breeding year in the 2019 Arctic breeding range - and that many of those chicks have made it out of Canada and Greenland. In the very best years of the last few decades we have estimated that in excess of 1/4 of the total count are comprised of juveniles which will give the population a massive injection of new blood. There are in excess of 10,000 Brent in Strangford at the moment and no doubt numbers are building across the island day by day.

We will be conducting censuses of the population in western Iceland, western Britain, northern France and throughout Ireland in mid-October as usual so we'd encourage you to keep an eye out for arriving birds and please in mid-month count the flock(s), determine the proportion of adults and young on as large a sample as possible and, if possible, identify how many young are in each brood (normally 2 adults + between 1 and 6 young). Informaion please to me:

Friday 13 September 2019

We are still here and the geese are back - ** data entry update **

First thing to say is that we continue to be enormously appreciative of everyone bearing with us and patiently waiting for the new system to come online. We were actually very close to a launch of the website earlier in 2019, and due to a number of factors technical and otherwise, when we could have launched the system in spring, it was so close to the end of the season we thought let’s just not rush for the sake of getting a flawed system launched.

I should also say that the issues are many and varied and that these relate to people’s availability, software and other technical issues. Throughout, Graham has been very patient at trying to encourage progress, keeping you informed as best he can (but not necessarily knowing the day-to-day technical issues) and in no way should the slow progress be ascribed to Graham

Not to be too self-critical, this has been a big undertaking, designed chiefly to ease the administrative burden at Graham’s end, to increase efficiency in data handling, processing and output – so very much short-term pain for long-term gain. Hard to get right, complicated and not core paid jobs for any of us. We have all invested a great deal of time, money and effort to move this along – not least Stuart and Rich who, in particular, basically have made it all happen. And we are confident it will be worth it!

So there is some background. What next?

Well we have finally seemed to make some progress with our designers after months of inactivity on all fronts.

  • Our first job is to ensure that all the outstanding data (for 2018/19) gets uploaded onto the system - thousands of records are involved there of course. That is in various formats and Graham has already been in touch with many of you about that
  • Once we've that all uploaded and checked we will start to generate summary outputs from the year (2018/19) as soon as possible
  • At the same time we will be working on the database to run checks on the data entry (so you can enter 2019/20 data directly), and on the data output formats and web interface
  • We expect to be contracting the database/software designers to make further changes, improvements and so forth over the coming 6 months so that we can have an evolving fit-for-purpose online system
Thank you for bearing with us. We are going to have to ask for your continued patience over the coming season.

We will be in touch later this month with guidance on what to do next - links for the database, data entry codes etc. 

There are geese in - thousands of them - so please record data onto notebooks or spreadsheet (ask Graham or I for a template for the spreadsheet if you need it - or

Very best wishes, Kendrew (on behalf of the group)

Thursday 13 September 2018

Things Now Really on the Move...

Latest reports on the geese are as follows:
At the North end of Strangford Lough this evening on receding HW, Alex Portig (the counter!!) and myself recorded about 6,000 birds now present. Despite good conditions for reading towards dusk, we only managed to identify seven ringed birds, as they continue to be WAY out on the mudflats following the tide. No families recorded, despite large samples being examined.
However, the first family this winter (3 juveniles) has now been recorded, and came from the Isle of Rum from Sean Morris, the family including a marked bird which had lost a ring.
From the nearby Isle of Skye, a small group of 13 adult brent held 3 marked birds, reported by regular observers Martin Benson and Bob McMillan.
Christine Cassidy and Lindsay Hodges also recorded the first ringed birds from Lough Foyle, in a flock of about 120 geese at Ballykelly.
The new season is clearly under way................